Read the following passage and answer the questions given thereafter.
Q1. The old man, shivering at times but fixed of purpose, plodded on till he came out of the town-gate onto a straight road.
(a) Identify the old man.
Ans. The old man is Miriam’s father.
(b) Explain — “fixed of purpose.”
Ans: He was focussed and single-mindedly determined.
(c) Where was the old man going & why?
Ans. He used to go to the post office every day to check about Miriam’s letter.
Q2. “Beholding the wooden arch of this building, the old man was filled with the joy that the pilgrim feels when he first sees the goal of his journey.”
(a) Name the building, with the wooden arch?
Ans: The building was the post office.
(b) Why was the old man filled with joy at its sight?
Ans: The building gave him hope that Miriam’s letter may have arrived.
(c) Why is the old man compared to a “pilgrim”?
Ans: The post office had become a holy place for him and he was like a pilgrim on a holy journey.
Q3. But when the evening of his life was drawing in, he left his old ways and suddenly took a new turn.
(a) Explain — ‘evening of life was drawing in”?
Ans: He was old, sick and on the verge of dying.
(b) What were the man’s old ways?
Ans: He had been a famous shikari and had killed many animals.
(c) What new turn did his life take? Why?
Ans: He gave up hunting due to separation from his only daughter Miriam.
Q4. “I know! I know! But do you think we’ve got your Miriam’s house registered.”
(a) Identify the speaker.
Ans: The speaker is the postmaster.
(b) Discuss the context of the above remarks.
Ans. The postmaster is irritated because of Ali’s daily insistence for his daughter’s letter.
(c) What was the result of the above remarks on the listener?
Ans: Ali felt very disheartened, miserable but did not lose hope.
Q5. “Allah is there, and in his presence I am giving you this money. When it comes, you must forward my Miriam’s letter to me”.
(a) Whom is the speaker addressing?
Ans: The old man is Ali and he is talking to Laxmi Das, a clerk.
(b) What is the reason for giving the money?
Ans: He wants him to deliver Miriam’s letter even when he is dead.
(c) What is the speaker expecting from the listeners?
Ans. He expects Laxmi Das to put Miriam’s letter on his grave.
Q6: The haughty temper of the official had left him in his sorrow and anxiety and had laid bare his human heart.
(a) Who had a haughty temper?
Ans. The postmaster.
(b) How has this person become more human?
Ans: His own daughter’s separation made him realise Ali’s misery and desperation.
(c) How did he try to compensate for his misbehaviour?
Ans: He decided to collect Miriam’s letter and went with Laxmi Das to lay it on Ali’s grave.
Q7. “For several days Ali had not come to the post office. There was no one with enough sympathy or understanding to guess the reason, but all were curious
to know what had stopped the old man.” [C.B.S.E. 2011 (T-1)]
(a) Why did Ali come to the post office?
Ans. Ali came to the post office to enquire about a letter from his daughter.
(b) Why had Ali stopped coming to the post office?
Ans. He had stopped coming to the post office because he was unwell.
(c) What were they curious to know?
Ans: They were curious to know why Ali had stopped coming to the post office.
SHORT ANSWER QUESTIONS
Q1. What were the qualities that made Ali a good shikari?
Ans: Ali was not only a famous shikari but also a crack shot. He could smell and locate animals and birds from a great distance and kill them without any reason or
Q2. Ali was a familiar figure at the post office, yet no one noticed his absence. What do you think could have been the reason?
Ans: All the staff at the post office were busy in their routine work and they had never really bothered or cared about Ali. They were indifferent to him and treated him
as a mad man. So his absence was not noticed by them.
Q3. Do you think the postmaster was justified in calling Ali ‘a pest’? What was Ali’s reaction to this accusation? [C.B.S.E. 2011 (T-1)]
Ans: The postmaster out of irritation had called Ali ‘a pest’. He had been fed up because of Ali’s persistence for his daughter’s letter. The postmaster was justified since
he had never felt the pangs of separation from a child. Ali was totally depressed, crestfallen, humiliated but still optimistic about receiving a letter from his daughter
Q4. Why did the postmaster want to deliver the letter personally to Ali?
Ans: The postmaster realised the pangs of separation from one’s child, when his own daughter did not respond. He feels guilty mistreating and humiliating Ali. So to compensate for his behaviour, he wished to handover Miriam’s letter personally to Ali.
Q5. Draw a comparison between Ali and the postmaster as fathers.
Ans: Both the postmaster and Ali were fathers devoted to their daughters. Both of them felt the pangs of separation but the postmaster took a lot of time to understand this. Ali’s
life had taken a turn due to his daughter, so had the postmaster’s. Eventually they ended up feeling the same kind of emotions.
Q6. How did the postmaster and Laxmi Das compensate for their ill-treatment of Ali?
Ans: Both the postmaster and Laxmi Das went to Ali’s grave and laid Miriam’s letter on his grave. The postmaster had felt guilty of humiliating and mistreating Ali, so this
was his only way of compensation.
Q7. “The newly-awakened father’s heart in him was reproaching him for having failed to understand Ali’s anxiety.” What was the reason for this ‘awakening’?
Ans: The cause of this “awakening” was his own anxiety about his daughter who was ill. His daughter was ill in another town and he had no information about her health. This made him understand Ali’s feelings, his pain and his anguish :
Q8. Why did Coachman Ali give up his favourite sport? [C.B.S.E. 2011 (T-1)]
Ans: Coachman Ali had been a famous Shikari and a crack shot in his yesteryears. After his daughter, Miriam, got married and left him, Ali understood the real meaning
of love and separation. So he gave up hunting, his favourite sport.
Q9. How did postmaster’s attitude towards Ali eventually change? [C.B.S.E. 2011 (T-1)]
Ans: Ali had become a fixture at the post office. All the clerks as well as the Postmaster were irritated with Ali’s perseverance and tenacity. The postmaster even insulted him and called him a pest. But now when he himself was worried for his daughter, he realised Ali’s misery. He regretted his behaviour and went to lay Miriam’s letter on Ali’s grave.